Mistletoe and Secrets – A Christmas Poem

Mistletoe and Secrets

I remember when I was small

The mistletoe hung in the hall,

I didn’t know what it was for,

But I recall clearly what I saw.

The family, gathered In fancy dress

Would all kiss each other, and to my distress,

Would give a secretive, furtive look,

when Santa gave me a colouring book,

and to this day, I remember still,

thinking he looked like Uncle Phil.

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 19/December/2018

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 🙂

Those Quaint little Traditions – A cautionary tale.

“Come on, gather around the Christmas tree, I want to get a picture of you all.”

The family lined up around the tree. It was an artificial tree that had been in the family for twenty years. Every year it dropped almost as many needles as a real tree would, and as such was now mainly a stack of metal wires with tinsel and baubles all over it and very little green fake leaf left. Every year one of her children asked, “why don’t we get rid of this old tree?” and she’d always reply, “because it’s tradition.”

On the top of the tree sat a Christmas Angel. Well, it would have looked like an angel once, but its wings were bent, it’s halo crooked and it’s face had long ago been scratched away by the Christmas lights, but it was tradition.

The Christmas lights themselves were also very old. Several of the bulbs had gone but they were wired individually so they still worked. The wiring was threadbare and some of the copper wires were showing through, but they were tradition.

It was tradition that made her make all her family line up in front of the tree. It was tradition that she would then have to hunt around for half an hour trying to find the camera.

It was tradition that someone in the picture would be blinking, or making a face, and it was tradition that the photo would languish in the computers memory banks and no one would ever get to see it.

It’s also tradition to have a Christmas fire, only this year it was caused by the faulty Christmas lights and the family only just escaped with their lives.

Some traditions are best not to be kept.

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 12/December/2018

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/12/12/your-daily-word-prompt-tradition-december-12-2018/

50 Word Thursday #30 – Family Ties.

Debbie Whittam sets this challenge every Thursday, to write a poem or story in 50 words, or multiples of 50 up to a maximum of 250 words, inspired by a picture and include some particular lines.

https://debbiewhittam.wordpress.com/2018/12/06/50-word-thursday-30/

This is the story I wrote last week:

https://talesfromthemindofkristian.wordpress.com/2018/11/29/50-word-thursday-29-blurred-instincts/

06-12-18

“She discovered it by accident on her fourth day at the lake.” –
Mary Kay McComas’ His Brother’s Keeper

Family Ties

She’d taken her summer vacations there. The beach and the lake, the old train station, the memories of her family came flooding back.

This was where, ten years ago, her brother had disappeared. Something inside her drove her back here. Some inner quest.

She discovered it by accident on her fourth day at the lake. It was a decaying, putrescent corpse.
She let out a scream. There were other people at the lake. One came over and put a towel around her shoulders.

She turned and said, “I think he’s dead”. As she said it, she realised how fatuous her comment had been. Of course, he’s dead, there’s nothing deader than a rotted body!

She passed out. When she came too, she was lying on the floor of a cell.

A guard dragged her to a desk and into a chair.

The uniformed man sitting opposite glared at her with cold blue eyes.

“We’ve managed to get some DNA checks done. Your DNA matches the corpse. I suspect he was your brother. Our witness said you told her ‘He’s Dead’. How did you know the body was male? The body was far too decomposed. So, you’ve come back to the scene of your crime, haven’t you?”

She felt the weight lift from her shoulders as she confessed. She’d always hated him, but crushing his throat with her hands had brought no pleasure. Her parents never got over the death of the son who they’d always loved more than their daughter.

[250 words]

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 06/December/2018

I have also included the following word prompts:

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/12/06/rdp-thursday-putrescent/

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/12/06/your-daily-word-prompt-fatuous-december-6-2018/

50 Word Thursday #26 – Kin in the Kitchen

Debbie Whittam sets this challenge every Thursday, to write a poem or story in 50 words, or multiples of 50 up to a maximum of 250 words, inspired by a picture and include some particular lines.

https://debbiewhittam.wordpress.com/2018/11/08/50-word-thursday-26/

This is the story I wrote last week (Gosh, I can’t believe a week has gone by already!!!)

https://talesfromthemindofkristian.wordpress.com/2018/11/01/50-word-thursday-25-tantrum-in-the-park/

 

08-11-18

Here are the words:

But then I reflected that nothing could be as bad as the kitchens.

Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn

Kin in the Kitchen

It was that time of year again when the whole family descended on her.

She wasn’t the eldest in the family, there were two brothers and an old Aunt who were all higher in the family pecking order, but they came to her because she had the largest dining table.

The house was already filling up with assorted Cousins, Nephews, Nieces and a load of people who were somehow affiliated with the family. After several years of playing hostess, word had gotten about that she was pretty much the best cook in the family.

This was getting rather out of hand though. There were people in the hall, up the stairs, in the bathroom, almost everywhere, but then I reflected that nothing could be as bad as the kitchens.

Why was it, that whenever her Kin came around they always gathered in the kitchen?

Yet, the dining room was empty.

[150 words]

 

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 08/November/2018

 

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/11/08/kin/

 

Multiple Word Prompt Story – Flag Flying Fervour

This was originally written in response to earlier prompts, but I am now sharing it again in response to the Ragtag daily prompt for today: Flag

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/10/23/rdp-tuesday-flag/

 

Fervor

FERVOUR

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/06/15/a-new-daily-post-word-prompt-june-15th-2018-word-benevolent/

BENEVOLENT

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/06/15/cataract/

CATARACT

https://thehauntedwordsmith.wordpress.com/2018/06/15/three-things-challenge-15-june-2018/

Here are the three words for 15 June 2018: Jolly Roger, guitar, iceberg 

Flag Flying Fervour

Winston Pickle was a typical English gentleman. He tried his best not to be rude to people. He stood out of other people’s way on the street and always opened the door for a lady. He thought of himself as typical, but actually, he was a dying breed. 

That day he opened a letter from his local council. As he read it, he could feel himself becoming overwhelmed with emotion. 

Dear Mr Pickle, 

I am sorry to have to write to you concerning your decision to fly a flag in your front garden. It is against our all-inclusive policy at the council to allow such flags to be flown and as such I must ask you, before it causes offence, to remove it forthwith.

Others who wished to fly flags have elected to fly a Pirate flag. You may consider this option.

Yours Sincerely

Mrs Bigginthorpe

Senior Council Secretary.

Winston was taken aback. The flag in question was the flag of his country, the one he was living in and he flew this flag out of a sense of national pride and patriotism. Young men, including his dear Father whom he never knew, died to defend that flag. He had a patriotic fervour, but like many like-minded people, he was not an extremist who went about being rude to people of different cultures. He didn’t want to start wars or invade anyone. 

He just couldn’t understand the council’s attitude in this. They even suggested he fly the Jolly Roger, a flag flown by murderous criminals and that would be less offensive to people than his own flag! 

Winston decided to speak to his neighbours and see how they felt about this. If any of them were offended by the flag he was flying, then he would take heed.

He started with his neighbours across the road, who had lived in the area the longest. 

Mr and Mrs Khan were a very nice couple who had brought up four children in that house but all had moved out years ago. Like Winston, they were now retired.

They invited him in and offered him a cup of tea. Mrs Khan had made a lovely fruit cake which he devoured eagerly.

“So my old friend, what is it you wanted to ask me?” asked Mr Khan.

Winston showed him his letter. Mr Khan had to get out his reading glasses, he had a cataract in his right eye and was still waiting for his appointment with the NHS to remove it. 

After he read it he looked at his neighbour of the past thirty years with sad eyes. 

“I have heard this is happening a lot at the moment. It is so sad. Of course, your flag is not at all offensive to me. It is a flag. The fact that some nasty thugs decide to do horrible things while wearing it or spray it on walls with swastikas doesn’t discredit the flag. People love their country, I respect that. You have always been a good neighbour to us. I will write to the council and let them know you are a good man.”

Winston went to his other neighbours, ones that he didn’t know as well. They all listened to what he had to say and agreed with him that he should not be made to take down his flag.

In a way, this sad event had resulted in something really positive. Winston Pickle had gone round and met all his neighbours. He was surprised at how nice they all were. He felt slightly ashamed he hadn’t made more effort to get to know them earlier but then you’re never too old to make a change. 

He was so happy at how kind and benevolent his neighbours had been to him, he decided to host a garden party and invite all the neighbours to it. His back garden was only a little courtyard but his front garden was huge. Big enough to have a marquis tent put up. He sent round invitations for a weekend in August. 

The day of his party, he was making a salad with some of his homegrown tomatoes and some iceberg lettuce, when people started to arrive. 

Mr and Mrs Khan had brought with them some pakora’s and pani puri that they had made and their son Sanjay had come along too. Sanjay was a musician and had brought his guitar with him. 

As they were all sitting in the garden watching Sanjay playing the guitar and singing folk songs leaning against the flagpole, the postman came by and handed Winston a letter.

It was from the council again. It had been six weeks since the last letter.

It told him that due to the number of letters they had received concerning him and his flag, they have decided to revoke their original order. He could keep his flag flying. 

Winston was overjoyed, looking at his neighbours he felt an overpowering love for all of them that went beyond mere fervour. They were family now.

The End

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 15/June/2018

 

 

A ghostly family home – Short story.

https://alltheshoesiwear.wordpress.com/2018/07/30/manic-mondays-3-way-prompt-ghostly/

FOWC with Fandango — Comfortable

Screenshot_20180729-172830_Google-01

 

It was an old rickety house and no one in town liked it much, but it was home for me. 

It was my ancestral home. Generations of my family had lived in it since it had been built back in 1890.  In fact they still did in a way. Not living of course, but they weren’t quite gone either.

So what if it was haunted? It didn’t bother me at all. They weren’t just ghosts, they were family. 

There was something so warm and comforting to be surrounded by your loved ones. My grandmother still sat in her rocking chair in the bay window knitting something that no one would ever wear and she will never finish. The moths had eaten away at the ball of wool that was still at the back of the wardrobe in Granny’s old bedroom. 

My own Mother and Father still occasionally drifted past. I often bumped into my Mother in the kitchen, which is where she spent most of her life providing meals for the family. My father was usually in his comfy chair by the fire. You could hear the rustling noise of his newspaper.

My Grandfather was mostly seen in the potting shed out back. That was where he was found after his last heart attack. 

The house had become a bit of a local landmark, you could see it from quite a distance, perched up on the hill at the top of the street. The old wooden boards were peeling, they could do with a lick of paint. Some of the roof tiles had blown off in last winters storms. The curtains at the windows were all moth-eaten and straggly with cobwebs hanging from the corners like it was always dressed for Halloween. 

It was nice being left alone. No unwelcome guests or nosy neighbours trying to find out your business. We didn’t even get any ‘trick or treaters’ at Halloween anymore. Not after the last time. I think I scared those poor kids out of their wits; it must have been a shock seeing my old body lying at the foot of the stairs like that. The way they screamed and ran away down the hill was hilarious.

No, some people may not have wanted to live in that house with all its ghostly echoes of the past, but I was comfortable. I was one of them now.

The End

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 30/July/2018

 

A Multiple Word Prompt Story – A Political Affair.

This story was inspired by the following Word Prompts:

Word of the Day: Sensitivity

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/07/25/sensitivity/

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/07/25/your-daily-word-prompt-constituency-july-25th-2018/

https://fivedotoh.com/2018/07/25/fowc-with-fandango-shallow/#comment-17444

https://thehauntedwordsmith.wordpress.com/2018/07/25/three-things-challenge-25-july-2018/

Today’s things are: snowman, family, caring

 

 A Political Affair

William Wilberforce Dudley-Walsh was the member of Parliament for the constituency of East Redborough and Shorwell. It consisted of the eastern half of a former seaside resort and several miles of unspoilt coastline and a few scattered farms. He was a Conservative member and he was thankful that he represented a fairly typical Conservative seat. He was always returned with a safe majority and as such did very little actual work at all. He may have been given the middle name of one of Britain’s greatest political campaigners who successfully managed to get Parliament to pass the abolition of slavery act, but he wasn’t at all made from the same material. It had been quite a useful boon when trying to find a seat, people liked the reference.

Continue reading A Multiple Word Prompt Story – A Political Affair.

Happy Families – Finale

On Sunday I wrote a short story about the discovery of a secret from the past. This was the story:

https://talesfromthemindofkristian.wordpress.com/2018/07/15/a-multi-prompt-short-story-happy-families/

and this is part two:

https://talesfromthemindofkristian.wordpress.com/2018/07/16/happy-families-part-two/

This is the final part:

 

I flicked through that infernal diary.

No, no mention of her wedding, but I stopped at another entry.

January 7th, 1918

Edgar and Theodore have enlisted. Emma and I both cried and begged them not to go. They looked so solemn. They had to go, they said. Foolish Pride! We had had such a lovely Christmas together, just the four of us and then they had to spoil it but joining the army. The war has been going on in Europe for some time, but America only joined in last year. I never knew why they did. What do we care about Europe?

Flick, flick.

November 15th, 1918

The war has ended. Finally, we have heard that Theodore and Edgar are coming home. They were both injured in battle and have been recovering at a Hospital in London but they should be home soon. Neither of them wrote about their injuries at all.

Emma and I have been getting on fine, keeping house together. We haven’t had an argument or a fight once.

This should be the best Thanksgiving ever.

 

November 22nd, 1918

Both Edgar and Theodore are different now. The war has made them withdrawn. I can understand why Edgar might have been affected by it, he’s lost and eye. Theodore doesn’t seem much damaged, he’s walking awkwardly but I couldn’t detect any other sign of injury at all.

 

Flick

February 14th, 1919

After months of pain down below I finally went to see Doctor Chinnery. He told me what I had begun to fear. My womb is deformed and I will never be able to have children. He told me it was probably something that happened to me as a child. I suddenly remembered when Emma had pushed me out of that tree house all those years ago. It was all her fault. She told me about Theodore’s war injury the other night too. Apparently, he had been shot, in the groin. So at least Emma won’t be having any children either, I don’t think I could bear that!

 

I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I had gotten over how nasty and resentful Great Aunt Sally was coming across. She had always seemed such a sweet old lady, always handing out sweets to me and my brothers. Clearly, she had been quite different inside. The thing that had caused me to pause and reread that particular entry was the bit about not being able to have children. If neither of them could have children then how could my Mother have been born?

I thumbed my way past pages, ever forward, hoping to find some answers. I wish I had stopped there and not read further but I did.

It seemed that they lived together, in this house and been quite happy together. Even Great Aunt Sally’s rantings seemed to die down a bit. I skimmed over snippets of parties and gatherings, Christmases and thanksgivings. Great Grandmother had moved in and eventually died. The passing of years played out in monologue until I stopped at an entry that made me pause.

April 17th 1935

I had noticed something odd about Emma that was causing me to wonder. Since Christmas she seemed to be gaining a little weight around the middle. It was odd because we ate the same things. Neither of us had much of a sweet tooth. I noticed she had a kind of glow about her too. I challenged her about it and she admitted the truth. All those years stripped away and we were children screaming and shouting at each other, just like in that tree house. She told me she always knew I hated her and she hated me too. She admitted choosing Theodore because I had told her I loved him. Then she admitted that she and Edgar had been enjoying each other’s company. She was pregnant with Edgar’s child. I nearly killed her then. Only one thing stopped me. The thought of that little baby, that sweet innocent child. I decided that I would keep her secret for now. For the baby’s sake.

 

Then the final entry.

 

August 19th, 1935

The baby was born. A beautiful baby girl, we’ll call her Alice. Emma had managed to convince Theodore that he was the father. As if he could be capable of it with his manhood all withered, but I suppose love will make you believe anything. Edgar knew, of course, but he was keeping himself well out of it. I moved out of our double bedroom to that room at the end of the landing. I couldn’t sleep with him any longer knowing what he’d done. What Emma had made him do. Now the baby had been born safe, I didn’t wait another minute before I went and told Theodore the truth. He hadn’t wanted to believe me at first. Then he looked at me with dead eyes. How much he had changed from that handsome, blue eyed young man he’d been. The War had started it, but I had just finished it. He was dead on the inside now. Edgar was out in the barn chopping logs, making himself scarce. Theodore stood up and walked out of the house. I saw him through the window, go into the barn. I heard the gunshot too.

I went back upstairs to Emma. She was still sleeping softly. She’d had a hard time of it, but I’d helped her through. She begged me that if anything should happen to her, if she died in childbirth, that I would bring up her little girl. Of course, I would. That was all part of the plan. It was easy in the end, so easy. She always kept that gold locket around her neck. A quick pull was all it took really.

It’s the end now. All that Love and Hate, all those years. We had hated each other but now I was free. I will bury her outside under that tree that Theodore planted not long after we all moved in. Theodore will help me. We’ll bury Edgar too. I’ll lock this book up in the box that my sister loved so much and I’ll put the key in the locket around her neck and bury it with her. No one will know, but just for myself, I had to explain, why I killed my Sister today. I hated her, that’s why.

 

I looked down at the book. I had never felt so chilled in all my life. The Summer’s heat, it was 100 Fahrenheit in the shade, failed to dispel the sudden cold. I shivered uncontrollably.

I remember Grandfather had been a quiet man who barely spoke. He’d died when I was six or seven. My Mother had met and married my Daddy at college and he’d moved in to the family homestead and had me and my brothers. I remember it had been a happy home then, happy families. Mother and Father, Father’s brother, Uncle Peter and his wife Auntie Annie and their sons, my cousins, Bobby and Elwood. My brothers Denny and Will, and of course Great Aunt Sally. She seemed to love all the children running around. How could a woman who had shown them so much love have had such potential for hate?  They’d all gone; moved away or passed over. Looking back, that game of happy families seemed so shallow and empty now.

Coming back suddenly to the present, I decided that it was best that this secret died. I didn’t want my brothers reading it, or their children.

I worked with a single-minded purpose that I’d always had. I didn’t have trouble finding wood to burn, or kindling. The dry summer had provided plenty. I built a huge pile of logs over that body and I didn’t let myself think about who it was anymore. I took out a match and lit the pile. It caught straight away, the fire raging through that tinder dry kindling. I then threw the leather-bound diary into the heart of the flames. It seemed to act like a solvent, making the fire explode. Sparks flew up and landed on the timber roof tiles of our family house. Within seconds the house was on fire.

For just a moment I stood there open-mouthed as the flames licked along the roof and down the clapperboard facias. I thought I caught a glimpse of an old lady at the upstairs window, peering out through the lace curtains. Could it be Great-Aunt Sally?

Then I came back to reality. My Mother was in the house. The house was on fire. Quickly I ran into the house and up the stairs. My Mother was still on her bed at the other end of the house. She coughed then and started to stir slightly as I picked her up. She was so frail that I didn’t have much difficulty in holding her up and moving her towards the stairs. The smoke was building up now. I grabbed my handkerchief and put it over my mouth and managed to half-drag my mother down the stairs and out of the front door.

We both lay on the dry grass and watched as the family house burned. I hoped to God that the past would burn with it.

The End.

 

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 17/July/2018

Word of the Day: Potential

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/07/17/potential/

FOWC with Fandango — Present

A Multi Prompt Short Story – Happy Families.

This story was written in response to the following word prompts.

Word of the Day: Woebegone

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/07/15/woebegone/

Shery’s One Daily Prompt: Scorn

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/07/15/your-daily-word-prompt-scorn-july-15th-2018/

https://thehauntedwordsmith.wordpress.com/2018/07/15/three-things-challenge-15-july-2018/

Today’s things are: great-aunt, ant, plant

Happy Families

It had been a while since I’d been to the family homestead. It was a rambling clapperboard house that at one time housed two extended families. Now only Mother lived there all alone. Walking up the pathway I passed plant after plant that was withering and dying in that long hot summer. It had been months since we’d had any rain.

The door creaked just like it always did as I pulled it open and walked into the relative coolness of the dark hallway. It smelt of wood and beeswax. All the wooden furniture was polished to a high shine. I felt a bite on my ankle. Looking down I saw a solitary ant climbing my bare leg, which I promptly squashed beneath my fingertips. The long hot dry summer had brought out a lot of ants lately. God, how I’ve prayed for rain.

“Mama, where are you? It’s me Laura” I called out, my voice echoing around the practically empty dwelling.

“Laura, is that you? I’m upstairs dear, In Aunty’s room.”

There were a lot of bedrooms upstairs that were practically untouched, except for dusting, since the previous occupants had departed. Her Great-Aunt Sally had lived in the bedroom at the very end of the landing and for the last few years of her life had rarely left it. It was still full of all her knickknacks and memorabilia.

I walked in to find my Mother sitting on the bed crying. I sat next to her and put my arm around her.

“There, there Mama. Great Aunt Sally’s been dead twenty years, why are you carrying on so?”

“No, it’s not that. There was a storm last night and it blew over that old tree, the one that your Grandfather planted not long after he bought this place.”

I still couldn’t understand why she sounded so woebegone. All this fuss about a tree. I couldn’t help feeling some scorn. It was a lovely tree, but It was only seventy years or so old, not really that old as trees went. I gave Mama another hug, but she pushed me away.

“You don’t understand. There was a body buried there, under that tree. The storm brought it to the surface. It was wrapped in a tarpaulin, but it was unrecognisable. There was a locket with it and in it was this key.”

I looked down at the small, ornate brass key in my Mothers frail old hand.

“What was the key for? It’s too small to be for a door.”

“It was the key to this box. No one could open it when she died but we didn’t think there was anything important in it. Not enough to force it open.”

I remembered the beautiful small box, inlaid with scented sandalwood, that now lay on the floor, open.

Also, on the floor, lying as if it had just fallen from my Mothers hand, was a small leather-bound book. The kind used for keeping a diary or perhaps notes and recipes in.

I reached down and picked up the book. I recognised the highly ornate handwriting from birthday cards I had received as a young child. It was Great Aunt Sally’s writing.

She had written. ‘Why I killed my Sister today.’

The End.

 

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 15/July/2018

My Aunt Irene – A list poem

This is a poem that I wrote as part of an exercise for my Creative Writing class.

The exercise was you had to imagine going down someones bag and picking out some objects you found in there. From those object, you then use them to build up a character.

I started listing certain things that I could imagine being in an elderly lady’s handbag.

I then found that my brain was making them rhyme, without any conscious decision to write a rhyme.

This is the poem. I hope you like it.

 

A bright lipstick of coral pink.

Powder compact, Chanel, I think.

 handkerchief; ostentatious lace.

A photograph of a man’s dark face.

Some metal buttons, tarnished brass.

A small round brooch of emerald glass.

Enamelled box, containing pills,

To alleviate my Auntie’s ills.

Something sweet, to make her feel better.

An envelope labelled “His Last Letter”.

My Aunt’s gone now, I miss her so,

together at last, with Uncle Joe.

 

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 18/June/2018

 

FOWC with Fandango — Ostentatious